“The greatest calamity in the life of any oppressed nation is not to have failed to defeat tyranny and despotism, but to have failed to try.”
My views on the struggle of Iranian women for justice and equality are no secret. Like millions of others, I feel absolute shame and revulsion in the knowledge that the women of Iran have, by and large, had to struggle alone to break the legal and social chains with which the Islamic Republic has enslaved them. Whether peacefully protesting for equality under the law, or being viciously harassed about their sartorial choices as in the past few days, they have been the victims, in all too many cases, of extreme brutality meted out by government thugs. I have asked the rhetorical question in past articles, “Where have Iranian men been as our women have been abused?” From the responses I received, I’ve surmised that many of my countrymen would prefer if I stopped asking this question. While there are many who feel as I do that our women should be shielded as much as possible from acts of brutality by the regime, others would prefer to follow the ostrich’s example of putting their heads in the sand and pretending the problem doesn’t exist. Blissful ignorance of the situation facing our women is unacceptable and this is not our way. Iranian men through the millennia have been known for their courage, not their cowardice.
Just when one begins to think that things in Iran couldn’t possibly get any worse for the people living there, this regime comes up with something new. Is it any wonder that tens of thousands of young, educated Iranians seek to join the Diaspora every year? The list of reasons to give up on the country is almost endless: soaring inflation, widespread unemployment and underemployment, rampant drug addiction, an epidemic of prostitution, raging religious persecution, extensive state endorsed discrimination of ethnic minorities, unrestricted and unconcealed oppression of women, an explosion in the number of Aids cases, this state sponsored license to kill which was recently granted in a Supreme Court ruling which permits “the pious” to kill all those who don’t neatly fit into to the social rubric of Iran’s perfect Islamic Utopia without having to worry about facing pesky murder charges. Nazanin Kaviani’s poem, Plan B, which was dedicated to her friend, Fariba, speaks volumes of the disillusionment and despair that young Iranians feel toward life in our homeland.
The “bad hejab” crackdown that has been taking place in Tehran the past several days is just another in a never-ending series of outrages perpetrated by this God forsaken regime against our women. This time, however, I am hopeful that men will finally speak out about what is happening. The reason for hope is that it appears Iranian men are for the first time being targeted by the legions of rabid black crows and bearded thugs roaming the city in search of those whose attire doesn’t conform to the dark, drab and dreary sartorial strictures of the perfect Islamic Utopia.
Whether men take a more forceful stand on behalf of our women, it is clear that women have been the main targets, yet once more, of the regime. The savagery with which the women of Tehran, both young and old, have been treated is shocking. Black crow brigades have been harassing and arresting our sisters by the thousands. What we have been witnessing from afar is, in a word, SHAMEFUL.
Two nights ago, my mother and I sat watching a talk show on IRIB5, a local Tehran channel, which comes over our satellite. A high ranking Tehran police official was the guest and he spent an hour explaining the merits of the crackdown. He said that this is not so much a crackdown as a new policy of the government. He said that “they” were going to “clean” up the country even if it meant putting every woman in the nation in jail. He said that women, who showed their hair, their ankles, wore clothing deemed too tight, or wore make up deemed inappropriate were not the kinds of women that were fit to walk the streets of “our Islamic society” and that young men who wore short sleeved shirts or gel in their hair were just as bad. He said that the crackdown would never stop until every deviant element had been locked away, so that “decent Iranians” [fascist speak for Black Crows and Bearded Thugs] could walk down the streets without having share the same oxygen with such morally depraved filth. That policeman is just one of millions of regime sycophants that have been brainwashed into believing that any Iranian that doesn’t toe the party line, i.e. fully supports the regime’s policies and adheres to its agenda, isn’t fit to call Iran home.
Regime hardliners and sycophants view those of